For library and information professionals, visibility is paramount. Budget cuts combined with a lack of understanding of the work and value of the library by decision makers are real issues. Businesses are built upon consumer needs and over time, a vast range of businesses practices have developed which are applicable to the library and information sphere.
What is a library's value proposition?
Your information service needs a clear strategy which sets out the value which you are bringing to your audience. This is known as your value proposition. It can be relatively simple, like a drinks manufacturer looking to quench its customer’s thirst for instance, or more complex. The idea is that your value is delivered in a simple, easily understandable manner so that your audience is able to see why they need you.
Your library's value proposition here might include delivering information that secures your organisation a new client. Behind this, you are delivering high quality reliable information in a timely fashion but it is the benefit of that information to your end user, or the target audience at hand, that really communicates your value most clearly.
What are the benefits of internal newsletters?
A well-thought out email is incredibly effective in communicating the benefit of a product or service to its potential customer base. The same applies to your library audience with regards to internal marketing.
So, how best should you do this? An effective way would be to use an internal newsletter that goes out to everyone in your organisation, e.g. a company news alert, as a platform to showcase what else the library can do. Make it short, snappy, and relevant - ensure they can get in touch for more support, and open a dialogue.
As you start to market your library service more, it is key that this message comes under one unified banner. When a message comes from the library, be it an email alert/newsletter, a presentation or another visual - it should be obvious from the outset that this was produced by the library.
Doing so will make it a whole lot easier when it comes to proving your value at a later stage, as the rest of your organisation will have a far better understanding and recognition of the services you provide. There are a number of means by which you can brand your service. Many platforms even offer white labelling of your emails so you can send out automated, self-branded messages with ease.
For instance, one option here would be to use a departmental logo, when available, such as “the information team”. Alternatively, you can introduce each alert with a short sentence announcing that this was tailored for you by the library, alongside your value proposition. Or you could use a custom ‘from’ label such as firstname.lastname@example.org to get your name on the map.
Focus groups and market research
When conducting market research, businesses will typically hold focus groups or one-on-one case study interviews in order to better understand the audience they are trying to reach. This is never a finite process but, instead, continues to develop alongside the business as the market, and indeed the service they are providing, evolves.
The same applies to the library service - you always want to be matching your offerings to the changing needs of your users. Questionnaires and surveys can be useful but nothing can match in person engagement. None of us like to admit to others that we don’t know something; a lot more information and intel will come through to you in a relaxed ‘real life’ conversation that through a list of questions on a screen.
It can be notoriously difficult at times to get your users to agree to spend the time to sit down with you, but make use of these communication tips. However, if you can get a handful of “library ambassadors” on board to help promote your service from within other departments, that might help. If that doesn’t seem viable, even sitting in on your users’ internal meetings can provide valuable intel with regards to their needs.
End of project celebrations
Be part of the project from beginning to end. When a big deal gets through, or a launch gets pulled off successfully, the key players within that project will typically get recognised as part of the company celebrations. You deserve that too.
When a research project is successfully completed, or an award is received for instance, be sure to give the key team members the appropriate credit. Not only will this praise encourage them for their future work but it also helps in building a warm open culture in your library team. Plus, we all like a reason to celebrate!